Now Justin Bieber Wants to Appropriate Tattoo Culture. Ugh.

Categories: A Rant
bieber.jpg

Justin Bieber's left arm is a testament to what happens when you get tattooed too much, too young, and without thinking it through properly. Have you seen that thing lately? It screams of walking into shops on the spur of the moment, pointing to a piece of flash on the wall, getting it in the first spot that seems cool, then wondering what to do with it afterwards.

First there was that stupid owl on his forearm. Then the panther head on his bicep that was totally out of proportion with the owl. And then, later on, he decided to just go ahead and fill in all the gaps in between those two things, because he fancied having a sleeve. And, while the far more delicate work between the bits of flash is beautifully done, it makes for a totally nonsensical overall piece. A rose here, an eye there, a little angel, a knight, some cloudy bits -- this might be one of the least cohesive sleeves we've ever seen, despite the expert hand that clearly attempted to make this mess look like one complete thought.

So imagine our horror yesterday when we heard that the 19-year-old Beebs wants to open a tattoo shop with his dad. Why? Well, according to a RadarOnline report, he's tired of touring and "It's his dream for it to be a very high-end parlor, unlike anything currently out there." Hmmm. How do we put this?

Fuck you, Justin Bieber. Fuck you and the panther head you rode in on.

Justin's sudden decision to be Tattoo Guy represents a very special kind of cultural appropriation. He's been doing this a lot lately: picking up on an important subculture, pouncing on it, assuming he's an expert overnight, and claiming it as his own, despite having the most basic grasp of what it's about. Did you see this bullshit?



Just as it takes more than picking up a can of spray paint to understand and execute graffiti well, it takes more than three years of sitting in a chair getting some poorly-thought-out ink to understand tattoo culture and treat it with the respect that it deserves. Justin Bieber's ignorance of these art forms is abhorrently apparent in the way that he treats them. To him, these are just two subcultures that he thinks will make him look like more of a badass, so he's rolling all over them like he fucking invented them.

As for this tattoo shop he wants to open being "high end" and "unlike anything currently out there," we have to wonder what that means. Will everyone get a complimentary glass of Cristal on the way in? Or will he just be charging his gullible fans $600 an hour to get tattooed by the kinds of artists who would be willing to work in a shop run by a bratty, self-entitled kid who has zero experience in the industry and very little appreciation for it?

We can only hope that these shop plans never come to fruition. Because for people actually involved in tattoo culture, this is precious space and sacred ground. Not to mention the fact that there is a strong hierarchy here. Tattooing is not a game you can just buy your way into, and the people at the core of the culture do not take it lightly when the clueless try to march in and jump straight to the top of the food chain without having earned a place there.

If Justin Bieber doesn't feel like touring anymore and truly wants to step back from being an egg-chucking, rental-car-racing pop star, perhaps he should go the fuck home and read some books for a few years. He would be better served by educating himself, learning some humility and acquiring a modicum of respect for the tight cultures he so badly wants to co-opt.   

-- @Raemondjjjj

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52 comments
mick666
mick666

got news for ya, tattoos ceased being cool about 20 years ago, when every bonehead in L.A. got one. Now you can't find someone WITHOUT a tat.

pennysurfers
pennysurfers

tattoos have always screamed douche..sorry folks

maria314_2000
maria314_2000

To me the main point of this story isn't weather or not the tattoo "culture" exists or not. The main point is that Justin Bieber is a DOUCHE, and I think that is something we can ALL agree on

drcoolmilk
drcoolmilk

This article is a joke. The author claims that Bieber has bad taste in tattoos and makes poor decisions choosing them because they are chosen off of a sheet of flash? Flash is what made tattooing what it is today. 

drcoolmilk
drcoolmilk

This article is a joke. The author claims that Bieber has bad taste in tattoos and makes poor decisions choosing them because they are chosen off of a sheet of flash? Flash is what made tattooing what it is today. Chances are good that all the people with the "custom zombie portraits" are going to be a lot more bummed on their tattoos down the road compared to the guy with the cool lady head tattoo that he chose off of a well painted flash sheet. Choosing flash is simply paying to keep a design that you like with you forever. If you're more concerned about making sure your children's birthstone colors are incorporated into the design, go make a scrapbook instead. 

tl;dr  Douche calls out other douche for something he's guilty of as well.

kennytheboy
kennytheboy

Yeah but you have to think of tattoo culture as anyone with a tattoo? VS actual culture, where tattoo artists will put Japanese writing on non Japanese people, tribal tattoos on people from not only no tribe but can't identify whether its maori or what... geishas, cherry blossoms, koi... mother*cking dreamcatchers and arrows on every white girl, gypsy faces, anchors on people who've never been on water, either your whole industry is corrupt or nothing is. Also, you always conveniently forget that you have roots in Polynesian rites of passage, stolen by the white folk, forgotten by everyone but sailors, and brought back by queers. Piercings/Tattoos were often run by gay men, but you know, it's biebz pissing all over your precious exclusive club everyone is in, and not tattoo school shows where you can learn 2 years of art in 2 weeks worth of cross contamination episodes. Gross.

loserdroid
loserdroid

Well you know, being a billionare celebrity, there aren't really many negatives.  What a bunch of crap "journalism"

Genex
Genex

I'm a photographer and I'm just waiting for him to become a "professional photographer" over night like all of the other mwacs and "facebook businesses".
I'm not part of the tattoo culture but I can appreciate what it is. I have a couple of small tats and am currently designing my own upper arm sleeve. As a photographer, I appreciate that tattoo professionalism like many other things doesn't happen over night

pinkie_
pinkie_

I hear gays want to appropriate marriage culture now.  Ugh!

Flower Vato
Flower Vato

Tats have been for squares several decades now.

giantrobotwar
giantrobotwar

I'm a tattooed person and the elitism going on here in both the article and comments makes me completely embarrassed of the tattoo COMMUNITY (calling it a "culture" is pretty much an appropriation within itself). Seriously when are white people going to stop looking for something to call a "culture". This is a selective lifestyle, stop crying about the sacrifices of no jobs and dirty looks. Boo freaking hoo. I know what I did to my body and I'm not going to say that getting "dirty looks" puts me in some elite authoritative rank of person to judge the decisions of this industry. Sacred ground? Puh leeze. There's already a tattoo shop on every corner and 80% of them are garbage. At least I'd be willing to bet this kid could afford to hire really decent artists opposed to the scratchers of the ~sacred ground of tattooing~.


TL, DR: you guys are taking this way too seriously and him opening a shop effects you in LITERALLY NO WAY WHATSOEVER!!

Gabriela Perez
Gabriela Perez

Close up of the arm of gtfo!!! Haha psych I don't care. Nobody does

annaliese
annaliese

i completely disagree with this article. getting tattooed used to be about walking into a shop and picking a piece of flash that looked badass. tattoo tv shows have warped everyone into thinking that getting a tattoo is supposed to be some process where an artist draws out a special piece of art work that is especially for you because you're a special snowflake that needs to commemorate the death of your first pony who loved carrots and ribbons. i also have a problem with the use of the term 'cultural appropriation' here because it's annoying and because not all tattoos have special cultural significance and tattooed people don't have a united culture all of their own but ok. whatever. stupid article.

my rant isn't in defense of justin bieber. i'm neutral. but in defense of tattoo flash which is historically important and in offense of people who think that custom tattoo work is the only tattoo work that matters.

Cy Real
Cy Real

I don't get the tattoo reference...

joevench
joevench

I say let him take the culture down a few notches. I'm tired of tattooed people and tattooists sitting there acting like they're something special something above other people. Don't get me wrong some tattooists do amazing work but I'm sick of the tattoo culture sitting up there on their high horse pretending to be better than everybody else. Would love to see that get knocked down a few notches honestly.

suz0912
suz0912

I found the article rather funny.

Rude Trevor Vargas
Rude Trevor Vargas

I think the Beiber-ization of "tatoo culture" happened about 20 years ago, kid. You are a little late.

Intheatticstudio Craftsy
Intheatticstudio Craftsy

Boring. Reading this article was like listening to two teenaged girls talk. I feel icky inside

shanewilkinson
shanewilkinson

He's young and learning!

Are you a hater??? Then you are a prime candidate to become Karma's little bitch!

Better hope you don't complain when injustice occurs to you!!!!

Because this is what you endorse - if you do complain when karma gets tight back at ya - its gonna fuck you up even more!

I don't listen JB - NEVER have - don't know what he sings - don't care!!!

What haters really want is Nazis to return and build concentration camps so you can throw in whoever the next person you decide to hate on!

Jealous fuckwits!


Cr Tez
Cr Tez

SF Weekly you suck and swallow....I'm glad I did not read this piece of crap article.... :D

Samyak Shah
Samyak Shah

going to un-follow you guys, don't want random junk articles on my feed. Thanks.

Carlos Perez-Silva
Carlos Perez-Silva

And no im not a bieber fan...I just know our human weaknesses very well

Carlos Perez-Silva
Carlos Perez-Silva

Society is gonna destroy this kid psychologically...Like we know what its like to have the world thrown at us and our personal lives open for everyone to see from the getgo

Lee Stokes
Lee Stokes

why is sfweekly writing about beiber???

fuckoff
fuckoff

@kennytheboy  sorry dude but u are tottaly wrong... if u focus in REAL  tattoo  artist,  they have an own style   do art...  not like tv shows  ord those crappy store only want  money...so  this  poor kid   need to learn first  to be a person then an artist.... and fuck of  all those one who they think are artist for  copy  a flash over the skin.... creation  is the  mother !!

cheers!!!

rae_alexandra
rae_alexandra

@annalieseActually, people who get tattooed regularly and have a passion for it DO have a united culture of their own. And when people like you reduce it to "commemorating the death of our first ponies", it serves to prove the point that a lot of other people don't fucking understand what this is about. So congratulations: you don't get it and Justin Bieber doesn't get it. 

If you go all the way back to Sailor Jerry then, yes, picking out that piece of flash was a magnificent thing. But tattooing has moved way beyond that - just as the tools that tattoo artists use now have - and to ignore how its history has progressed is like deciding to do all your work on a typewriter because that's how it used to be done. That's nice and everything, but it's not where we are anymore. 

rae_alexandra
rae_alexandra

@joevenchWhat you're reading as "high horse" from tattooists and the tattoo-faithful is actually probably defensiveness because we are so frequently treated like scumbags by those that don't understand the culture. Just Google the list of jobs we can't get because we enjoy marking the people and things that are important to us on our bodies. 

Tattooing, as I said in the blog, is sacred ground for us. Yes, it's a bonding piece, but it's also how a lot of us express ourselves, mark the incidents and people that are important to us. The very act of getting tattooed is cathartic for many of us. I have no issue with Justin Bieber wanting to get tattooed - trust me, I understand the appeal. But for him to dive in and want to open his own shop shows a great misunderstanding of his place in this scene.

I have been getting tattooed for 17 years and I STILL would never dream of trying to open a shop, even if I had the money to do so. Because it takes more than liking tattoos to do so. I'm not trying to say that tattooed people are an elite. I'm not trying to say that certain people shouldn't get tattooed. I'm trying to point out that people who truly love and understand this culture have more respect for it, and a greater understanding of it, than Justin Bieber is currently presenting.

To those of us who get tattooed on the regular, this isn't about having something pretty on your skin and it isn't about trying to be a badass. The issues here are much greater and Bieber just demonstrated a fundamental misunderstanding of that.

jgknd
jgknd

@joevench oh you want to take people down a few notches do you? totally ignorant statement. i live this culture every day. i have a LOT of friends who are tattoo artists, and also a LOT of friends who are tattoo models...and not one of them is on a high horse, nor do they, or I (also having quite a few tattoos myself) think we are any better than anyone else, we are just people who love art, love tattoos, and the whole culture. what makes you think people like us are on some high horse or think we are better than anyone? because a few people you know or read about, heard, or saw acted that way? thats like me saying people without tattoos are all conservative judgemental assholes who think THEY are better than US, just because ive heard, witnessed (and been subjected to) people without tattoos thinkin we are scumbags and punks..the dirty looks, the whispering to their friends "look at this guy"..but, i dont think that. i think it only when it actually happens. other than that, people without tattoos for the most part are just fine, just like most of us in the culture are good down to earth, level headed, NON pretentious people. and i got news for ya, there are PLENTY of people walkin the planet with ZERO tattoos, who do act just that way. so many conservative people out there look at me, and automatically think im some scumbag because i have tattoos...when in reality, hey, im a pretty nice guy. i work hard, support a family, and do NOT think im better than anyone. do they get a chance to know me? NOPE! they dont even give it a thought. in fact, they sit there on their "high horse", and judge me, and people like myself, and draw conclusions based on what we look like. so yeah. it goes for everyone. people with tattoos, and people without, dont knock a culture because you may have heard or seen a few tattooed people act that way, it makes you no better than them. grouping us all together and saying we need to be taken down a few notches, just makes you sound ignorant. 

jordan.crochet
jordan.crochet

@shanewilkinson Why would disliking something mean that we would want a concentration camp. You sound stupid and you're an idiot.

SD11
SD11

@rae_alexandra You're completely overreacting with the tattoo culture thing. It doesn't exist. For real. In no way am I being derogatory, but it simply doesn't exist. If's a choice. Not a culture. Gay people aren't part of a culture because they choose to be gay. 


Just because doctors go to conventions (like tattoo conventions) and doctors had to work their way through years of grueling hard work to get where they are, and had to sacrifice lots to put themselves through medical school and hang out with other doctors - That doesn't mean there is some sacred "doctor" culture.


Don't be ridiculous.

bane3
bane3

God quit whining for fucks sake. You sound worse than those little fat scene girls who go to one hardcore show and think they're "part of the culture". Seriously stop crying about how hard you have it and how you can't get jobs as easy, and how everyone discriminates because you chose to get tattoos in the first place. I have many tattoos in very visible places and have never had a single problem. Most people are curious about the tattoo world, but the "sacred ground" elitist circlejerk mentality tends to put people off.

And I don't care that Justin is "defiling the sacred art of tattoo" because there's ten "shops" near my house that aren't even at scratcher level. Who cares what he does? People like you are more obsessed with him than his fans. Hey here's an idea, STOP MAKING HIM RELEVANT.

bane3
bane3

@jgknd


I think the reason you sound like such a twat is your "us" vs "them" mentality. It's not like we are some poor wretched minority that gets picked on all the time. While I agree that no one should be victimized for anything like that, your entire post is full of hypocrisy and elitism. 


Seriously it's like this people in this culture want so badly to be hated on so they can play misunderstood victim. "Omg guys that person looked at me funny and whispered...It must be my tattoos! woe is me, were people too you know!" 


You chose to put ink there, man up and deal with it.


(I have ALOT btw)

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